On the third day of the Samidoun international delegation, the Ghassan Kanafani Brigade, in Lebanon, the network participated in numerous visits and meetings in Beirut, Tripoli and Beddawi refugee camp.
The first of these meetings took place at the office of the cultural organization Ajyaal (“Generations”) coordinated by Samira Salah, who welcomed us together with her husband, Salah Salah, co-founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and historical member of the Arab Nationalist Movement. The Samidoun delegation honored Salah and Samira for their lifelong struggle and dedication to the Palestinian people and their liberation movement, presenting them with Palestinian embroidery.
Samira is a Palestinian refugee born in Tiberias, who grew up in Homs, Syria, after her family’s forced displacement from Palestine during the Nakba. In 1965 she joined the Arab Nationalist Movement, although she had always participated as an activist. When she became a member of the PFLP, she was in charge of the women’s union, became a member of the Central Committee of the Front, and later she devoted her greatest efforts to the Palestinian refugee committee of the PLO. Her activity in this committee was directed towards the refugee camps that were not recognized as such in Lebanon and therefore did not receive any financial support, including from UNRWA.
After the war in Lebanon in 2006, both Salah and Samira moved to Tripoli to focus on developing Lebanese-Palestinian cooperation. Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the two coordinated youth activity camps every year, structured in three different ways: one for Palestinians, Arabs and Europeans; one for Lebanese Palestinians; and one for Palestinians in Europe.
This project is based on an essential premise on which Salah and Samira’s thinking is based, and around which our conversation revolved: The role of the new generations is an indispensable key to the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea. Salah, anxious to make it clear to us that this premise was not a simple logo, briefly exposed us to the important role played by the Palestinian youth as active political agents and subjects from 1920 until today. Finally, we were honored to receive a dedicated copy of his recent autobiography “From the banks of the Al Buhaira to the revolution.”
The meeting was powerfully touching, as Salah and Samira shared their decades of experience in struggle and their conviction in supporting youth organizing to move forward the liberation of Palestine.
At mid-morning the delegation headed towards Tripoli, in the north of Lebanon, where we were received in the home of Robert Abdallah, brother of the political prisoner Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, who has been incarcerated in French prisons for 37 years. The delegation talked with Robert and his colleagues in the national campaign to liberate Georges Abdallah about the various campaigns underway for Georges’ release, as well as the political situation in Lebanon and the lack of commitment and action of both the Lebanese government and the Palestinian factions to secure the release of Abdallah.
The members of the Collectif Palestine Vaincra participating in the delegation discussed their efforts on the ground in France to widely amplify and publicize the campaign for Georges Abdallah’s liberation, working hand in hand Samidoun internationally and with the campaign in Lebanon.
Robert and his colleagues in the campaign in Lebanon also appreciated the important role played by European internationalists in George’s case and in the Palestinian cause. Delegates discussed their work and activities, explaining the origins of Samidoun, the different fields in which we work and the collective work of Samidoun between occupied Palestine, the network in Europe, and elsewhere in the Arab region and internationally. Finally, delegates presented the new initiative of the Masar Badil, the Palestinian Alternative Path.
Next the Samidoun delegation travelled to Beddawi refugee camp, located near Tripoli. The delegation was warmly received by the Arab Palestinian Cultural Club, and delegates delivered the funds that were raised earlier in the year to support the People’s Ambulance of Beddawi camp, a project that has become increasingly important, especially as the medical and financial crisis in Lebanon deepens.
Before entering the building of the club, the delegation walked through the streets of Beddawi. The camp is well-known for the murals and artworks painted on the walls in the streets of the camp, and in many ways, daily living conditions are better in Beddawi camp than in the camps visited by the delegation on previous days.
Next, the delegation visited Al-Shifa medical center, which is run by Abu Abed. Al-Shifa provides medical checkups and recipes for the residents of the camp, and it also has a specialized room for pregnancy and childbirth. In addition, the center houses a laboratory for diagnostic testing.
The good and necessary work of the center, which has already existed in a consistent state of harsh conditions, has been heavily affected by the economic crisis in Lebanon. There are widespread shortages of medication, and even simple painkillers like ibuprofen and paracetamol (Tylenol) are sometimes unavailable. Medical hardware and equipment is also much needed to provide adequate services to the camp. All in all, the center demonstrated the need for close cooperation between international revolutionary movements and the Palestinian diaspora in the camps.
When the delegation arrived at the Arab Palestinian Cultural Club building, local organizer Osama Al-Ali explained the history of the club. It was founded in 1993 as a response to the Oslo accords and the marginalization of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, with its principal goal to organize and activate the youth in the camp to struggle for the right to return to Palestine.
The delegation met with children and youth in the camp to hear their views and discuss the future of Palestine; in their comments, they highlighted the central importance of the connection between the struggles in the camps and for the right to return with the armed struggle, especially the resistance in Gaza.
The children and youth had an insightful and productive discussion with the delegation, in which they demonstrated their curiosity, understanding, depth of knowledge and brilliance. Questions were raised about the internationalist character of the Palestinian struggle, the prisoners movement and visions of a future Palestine free of colonialism.
The evening concluded with a dinner and musical performance, where the children and youth of the Club sang songs about workers, the right of return, Palestinian resistance and armed struggle, and freedom. Our hosts gifted the delegation keffiyeh scarves adorned with the logo of the club and the image of Al-Aqsa before the conclusion of the program.
- Read the Day 2 Report: Samidoun Delegation to Lebanon Day 2: Political and cultural discussions at Mar Elias camp
- Read the Day 1 Report: Samidoun delegation to Lebanon begins: Visit to Shatila camp, meeting with boycott campaign
The delegation will proceed throughout the coming days, with ongoing reports of the delegation’s meetings and work throughout Lebanon. You can also follow the progress of the delegation on Samidoun Stockholm’s social media (@samidoun08), Collectif Palestine Vaincra (@collectifpalestinevaincra) and Samidoun Spain (@samidoun.esp).
The delegation is self-funded by Samidoun Network and the participants taking part in the delegation and its meetings. However, the delegation also aims to support organizing and build resources in the Palestinian refugee camps and throughout Lebanon, which is currently experiencing an extreme financial crisis, the greatest burden of which is falling on the most marginalized.
Your contribution can help the delegation to support the work of grassroots organizers in the Palestinian refugee camps to sustain and build their work as well as launching new centers for organizing for liberation and return for Palestine. Make your donation below to support this important initiative.